Today, many people assume that believing the Bible involves blind faith. But what if there was evidence that the Bible isn’t just a bunch of fairy tales, but the words of the living God?
Actually, there is.
Bible prophecy provides amazing evidence that there is a God, and that He inspired what has become the most read, best-selling, most opposed, and most translated book of all time.
Prophecy is the ‘forth-telling’ of God’s plan to save humanity. One of the most outstanding features of prophecy is that it is often — quite literally — a record of events before they happen. Much of Bible prophecy is history written in advance.
This possible because the Bible’s author is timeless. God can see all of history laid out at once, a bit like someone watching a pageant from a helicopter instead of the street. Those at ground level see only a few floats at a time, but the perspective from above enables the viewer to see it all at once. God is the same with the events of history. There are no surprises to Him.
In the book of Isaiah, God even invites us to test His claim to be God on His ability to foretell the future:
“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” — Isaiah 46:9-10
So let’s take the test and see if God really did record history before it happened. The twelve passages below are taken word-for-word from the Old Testament (NKJV), which was written hundreds of years before Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine.
As you read these prophecies, keep in mind that as a matter of recorded history, the Old Testament was translated into Greek in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, from 270BC until about 130BC. It obviously had to exist by that time in order for it to be translated! This rules out any possibility that the passages below were forged after the event and made to look like prophecy.
Also consider that the New Testament, which records the fulfilment of these prophecies, is by far the best-attested book of ancient literature, with some 25,000 manuscripts still in existence today, spanning from the second through to the fifteenth century.
1. God Will Become a Man
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6
The idea that God would become a human being was not invented during or after Jesus’ lifetime. This prophecy — written 700 years before Jesus — clearly foretold the day when a child would be born who would be known as ‘Mighty God’. That is exactly who Jesus claimed, and demonstrated himself, to be.
2. Messiah Born to a Virgin
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” — Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel literally means God with us, clearly indicating God’s plan to step into history as a human being. Though the idea of a virgin mother may seem strange to us, it seems to be God’s way of saying that the Messiah did not have two human parents — but rather one human and one divine, making him both fully man and fully God.
3. Messiah Born at Bethlehem
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” — Micah 5:2
During the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel was under the iron fist of the Roman Empire, and the Caesar (Augustus) held a census of the empire, requiring all families to return to the place of their father’s birth to register. For Joseph — Jesus’ legal father — that was the small city of Bethlehem. So even though Jesus grew up in Nazareth, that census essentially forced him to be born in Bethlehem, just as God had foretold!
4. The ‘Sceptre’ Departs from Judah
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” — Genesis 49:10
For centuries, Jewish and Christian commentators have recognised the name Shiloh as a title for the expected Messiah. Therefore, this prophecy states that after Judah loses its sceptre — its judicial power over life and death — the Messiah would soon arrive.
Historical sources affirm that the Roman authorities indeed took from Judah, like many other provinces under the Roman Empire, the right to enforce capital punishment. This occurred in about AD 7.
In response to this, Jewish leaders wore sackcloth and covered their heads in ashes, mourning, “Woe unto us, for the scepter has been taken from Judah, and the Messiah has not appeared!” thinking that God’s own Word had been broken. Little did they know that growing up in the nearby district of Galilee was a young man named Jesus.
5. Messiah Preceded by a Messenger
“‘Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” — Malachi 3:1
Heralding Jesus’ coming was a man known in the Bible and in non-biblical sources as John the Baptist. His message to the people of Judea was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”, boldly announcing the arrival of the Messiah, just as this prophecy foretold.
6. Astonishing 173,880-Day Prophecy
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.” — Daniel 9:25-26
Just as in English our word decade means ten years, so in Hebrew, the word used here for weeks (‘shebuah’) means a period of seven years.
Seven weeks of years (49 years) and sixty-two weeks of years (434 years) were expected to pass between the command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the arrival of the Messiah. That gives us a total of 483 years, or 173,880 days (according to the 360-day Jewish calendar).
The command to rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445BC. Exactly 173,880 days later, on April 6, AD 32, a man named Jesus Christ, worshipped as the Messiah, entered Jerusalem riding a donkey!
This prophecy also warned that after the Messiah’s death, the temple would be destroyed. This occurred in AD 70, during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and it has never been rebuilt. Therefore the Messiah had to arrive before that time, which indeed he did.
7. Messiah Struck, Shamed and Abused
“I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” — Isaiah 50:6
During Jesus’ interrogation by the Jewish leaders, he was spat on, beaten and struck, and then after being sent to the Roman authorities for sentencing, he was scourged. Scourging was a Roman form of punishment that involved repeated blows to the victim’s back with a multiple-lashed whip which had small hard objects embedded in the ends, such as broken pottery and metal, so that the flesh was torn on impact. Jesus was also beaten and spat at on his climb to Golgotha as he carried the cross.
8. The Crucifixion Scene
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? … All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” …
“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” — Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 14-18
In Jesus’ day, the Psalms weren’t numbered. Rather, they were identified by the first line, which in the case of Psalm 22 was My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? When Jesus shouted these words from the cross (Matthew 27:46), he was drawing attention to Psalm 22, which is a detailed description of his death, written over a thousand years beforehand.
This Psalm described in advance many aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion, including the ridicule of those standing by: “If He is the King of Israel let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted God; let Him deliver Him…” (Matthew 27:42-43); the extreme thirst that Jesus suffered (John 19:28); the casting of lots for his clothing (John 19:24); and most remarkably, crucifixion — a method of execution in which the hands and feet were pierced. When Psalm 22 was written, the Romans hadn’t even invented crucifixion yet!
9. Messiah Given Vinegar and Gall to Drink
“You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonour; my adversaries are all before You. Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” — Psalm 69:19-21
It is remarkable that these are the two things that were offered to Jesus as he hung on the cross (Matthew 27:34). Gall was given as a narcotic to deaden pain, but Jesus refused to take more after tasting it, as he was committed to taking the full blow of our punishment upon himself.
10. The Sin-Bearing Messiah
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?
“For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked — but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth…
“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” — Isaiah 53:4-9, 12
This passage is so embarrassing to many Orthodox Jews today that in their yearly reading schedules, synagogues go out of their way to avoid reading Isaiah 53!
Even though it was written around 700 years before the cross, this chapter reads like a running commentary of Jesus’ death. Jesus was wounded, bruised, scourged, and killed, and the entire New Testament agrees that he did so in our place — he bore the sins of the world, and our punishment for them, upon himself. Jesus was silent before his accusers (Matthew 27:12), he submitted himself to death (Philippians 2:8), and was buried in a rich man’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). And he endured all of these things to reconcile us back to God.
11. Mourning for the ‘Pierced One’
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” — Zechariah 12:10
The “Me” is God speaking. In the Hebrew text, between the words Me and whom the letters aleph and tau are found. These are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. So this passage could be read, “they will look on me, the Alpha and the Omega, whom they pierced…” The Alpha and the Omega is a familiar title of God in the New Testament.
So just in case we missed it in the other prophecies, God foretold that He Himself would be pierced (crucified), revealing that Jesus truly is God manifest in the flesh.
12. Messiah Raised to Life
“For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” — Psalm 16:10
Sheol is Hebrew for the grave. The Holy One would suffer death, but he would not remain in the grave. The resurrection is the clinching evidence that Jesus was not just a man — he was God with us — and death couldn’t hold him down.
The resurrection, though it is rejected today by so many because of the modern world’s bias towards naturalism, is the only plausible explanation for all of the evidence supplied to us from history.
If the disciples attempted to forge the resurrection as a hoax upon the world, there is no way that 10 out of 12 of them would be willing to suffer death for something they knew was a lie. That they did die as martyrs strongly suggests that they believed their own claims about Jesus’ victory over the grave.
This article was originally published at the Daily Declaration.